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282 THE BIBLICAL WORLD
means for knowing it better, as the generations advance; and that, if
we could know it better, we should be drawn more powerfully toward it."
Edgar J. Goodspeed
The University or Chicago
ASTROLOGY AND THE OLD TESTAMENT
The appearance of Jeremias' work 1 in English is declared by the
author to constitute in effect a third edition. Mrs. Beaumont's transla-
tion has had the advantage of close co-operation and careful revision on
the part of the author and is worthy of high praise. Occasionally, to be
sure, the German original has unduly controlled the English expression,
as for example in Vol. I, p. 343, where the following clause occurs, viz.,
"which unfortunately only still contained," and on p. 350, "further
appears in proper names the divine name ilu." Sometimes the trans-
lation is less clear than the original as, e.g., on p. 237 of Vol. II, where
the sentence "the victory would certainly be sealed according to oriental
custom by the introduction of the worship, therefore of the worship of
Yahweh," should read "by the introduction of the cultus of the country,
to wit, the worship of Yahweh."
The special introduction by Dr. C. H. W. Johns, of St. Catharine's
College, Cambridge, points out the significance of this work as furnish-
ing English readers with the best statement of the astral theory of the
universe and its application to the interpretation of the Old Testament.
Dr. Johns himself is careful not to commit himself to an acceptance of
the theory; but, on the other hand, he evidently looks upon it with
much favor and commends it to the serious consideration of all students
of the Hebrew religion.
The view owes its existence to the indefatigable industry and the
resourceful ingenuity of Dr. Hugo Winckler, of the University of Berlin.
It has met with hearty approval from many German scholars, like
Jeremias; but with strenuous opposition from many others. In this
edition the first three chapters are given to setting forth the astral
theory of the universe that is thought to have been current in the ancient
East. Considerations of space do not permit an exposition of that theory
here. Suffice it to say that its fundamental proposition is to the effect
1 The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient East. By A. Jeremias. Manual
of Biblical Archaeology. English Edition Translated from the Second German Edi-
tion, Revised and Enlarged by the Author, by C. L. Beaumont. Edited by C. H. W.
Johns. [Theological translation library, Vols. XXVIII and XXIX.] 2 vols. New-
York: Putnam, 191 1. xxx+352, xii+331 pages. $7.00.
BOOK REVIEWS 283
that everything in the world below is but a copy of its original in the
heavens above. The course of events here consequently is determined
by the course of events there. He who can read the meaning of the
heavens can tell, not only what has taken place upon earth, but what will
The evidence urged in support of this theory involves the attribut on
to the old Babylonians of a high degree of astronomical lore. But when
claims of this sort were scrutinized by one who not only is versed in
Assyrian but is also a practical astronomer, viz , Dr. F. X. Kugler, 2 they
were found not to have a sufficient basis in facts. For example, the
contention that the Babylonians knew of the precession of the equinoxes
is shown to be untenable; the claim that the zodiac was divided per-
pendicularly by the Babylonians is made to give way to the demon-
stration that they divided it longitudinally; and the Babylonian year,
instead of having been a sun year, is shown to have been a moon year,
with intercalated months. These propositions are vital in the astral
theory ; with them the structure stands or falls.
On the strength of this theory, Jeremias and other supporters main-
tain that monotheism and truly spiritual religion developed in Israel
as early as the days of Abraham, having been acquired from Babylonia.
The many strong facts so easily brought forward against this interpre-
tation of early Hebrew experience are explained by Jeremias as due to
the fact that there was from the earliest times in Israel an esoteric
religion in the possession of a few choice spirits while the masses were
content with a cultus that was essentially pagan. The difficulty with
this view is, of course, the fact that the very best men in Israel betray
no consciousness of this esoteric monotheism until very late in the
nation's life but, on the contrary, furnish abundant evidence that they
were dominated by crass polytheisic ideas.
A few illustrations of the astral method of interpretation may be
cited. The garden of Eden represents the entire universe in miniature;
its two trees represent the upper and under worlds. The twelve loaves
of shew-bread correspond to the twelve months of the year. The seven-
branched candlestick represents the seven planets. The two pillars,
Jachin and Boaz, at the entrance to the temple represent the two turn-
ing-points (solstices) of the zodiac. The names of the twelve tribes
correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac and the sentences of Jacob's
Blessing play upon the zodiacal significance of the names. The prophet's
2 Especially in his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (1907); 2d ed., 1909;
and 1m Bannkreis Babels (1910).
284 THE BIBLICAL WORLD
mantle of I Kings 1 1 : 29 ff . " signifies the cosmos, or the microcosmos of
the kingdom, or what is in idea the same, knowledge and power over
fate." The combat between David and Goliath is of cosmic significance,
Goliath being probably the mythical dragon representative of the
winter season, while David is representative of the summer season.
The word "shibboleth" was possibly chosen (Judg. 12:5 f.) with refer-
ence to its allusion to Ishtar, "the heavenly virgin with the ears of corn, "
whose popular cult in Israel "is attested by the account of the festival
of the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter."
Exception may be taken to various statements lying wholly outside
the disputed realm of the astral theory. The very first paragraph makes
the somewhat rash statement that "history clearly shows that the 2,000
years between the founding of Babylon and the subjection of the East-
ern world to the West were under the intellectual domination of Baby-
lon." This seems to reflect on the one hand too slight a comprehension
and appreciation of the contribution of the Egyptian civilization to the
thought of western Asia and on the other a failure to do justice to the
distinctive and independent thought of Israel. The evidence of the
excavations in Palestine tells strongly against the predominance of
Babylonian ideas and customs there. The influence of Egypt is very
much more apparent. Again, to say "we know of no uncivilized time
of Israel" (I, 273) is to plead guilty to a certain hopeless kind of blind-
ness. The actions of the leaders of the early Israelites are in many cases
psychologically incomprehensible on the supposition that they were the
representatives of an elevated stage of civilization. Their thoughts and
deeds comport far better with a nomadic and almost barbarous state.
Solomon's temple was the first great building to be erected in Canaan
by the Hebrews, so far as our records go, and for its construction recourse
was had to the services of a master-workman trained in Phoenicia.
Yet again, to say that "differentiation between Judaism before and
after the Exile must be given up" is to set at naught all the results of
modern Bible-study. Such an opinion reflects its author's inability
to enter into any genuine appreciation of the history of thought in Israel.
He has become the protagonist of a one-sided interpretation which
attempts to solve all the problems of Hebrew religion without any real
knowledge of what the problems are.
While the astral theory sets aside ruthlessly the results of the his-
torical treatment of the biblical material, it will have become evident
to most readers that it offers little comfort to the supporters of the tra-
ditional interpretation. There is nothing here of special divine revela-
BOOK REVIEWS 285
tion and little left of the thought that Israel was a "peculiar people."
She stands rather in the r61e of an inveterate borrower from Babylon,
who in most cases improved the quality of the borrowed materials after
they came into her possession. The Old Testament instead of being
"the word of God" becomes a repository of outworn and thinly dis-
guised astrological superstitions. Myth and history are so inextricably
mingled that little escapes the malarial influence of the mythical atmos-
phere. But, while much more might be said by way of disagreement,
it remains true that Mrs. Beaumont has performed good service in
placing this book within the reach of English readers. They have now
no excuse for professing ignorance of the meaning of the astral theory
of the universe as applied to the interpretation of the Old Testament.
Moreover, though Dr. Jeremias' interpretations are for the most part
vitiated by his subservience to this theory, yet the book presents very
much Babylonian and Assyrian material not elsewhere easily accessible,
which is of great value for the illumination of many passages in the Old
Testament. It is regrettable that the work was not done sooner. Too
often German phantasies are not introduced to English readers until
they have had their day and ceased to be in their original habitat.
J. M. Powis Smith
The University of Chicago